Technology has been blamed for making us more like the beings on Wall-E than healthy, active humans – but a few Boston tech startups are determined to change all that. Their “fitTech” tools connect us to the athletic community, help us find experts and offer advanced self-monitoring tools to help us get and stay healthy.
Here’s how it started for me: this spring I decided to get back into running and participate in the Sept 1 Freedom 5k, a 16-part sprint along the Freedom Trail in Boston. It’s been awhile since I sprinted anywhere so I knew I’d need help. Luckily, Jordan Fliegel, CEO of CoachUp, was already a few steps ahead of me.
(1) Coaching Me Softly
Whether you’re a kid looking to make the varsity football team (like my son) or a business executive a little weak on the green (like this guy), CoachUp makes it ridiculously easy to find your perfect coach. With hundreds of coaches in over 20 sports - and new coaches being added daily - you’re basically out of excuses. Simply plug in your zip and sport of choice for a personalized list of match.com-type profiles of local coaches, complete with pictures and individual specialities.
Just how good are these coaches? Check out Tom’s secret to throwing a killer left hook, Alex’s perfect football pass, Isiah’s tip on a super-solid catch, and how Brandon executes the perfect step-back jumpshot.
I quickly found exactly who I was looking for: along with an emphasis on personal empowerment, my coach Catherine specializes in both sprinting and specifically in 5ks. Perfect! Our sessions have been awesome, and my coach’s notes and training schedule are accessed via my CoachUp dashboard.
I’m off & running! And so is CoachUp.com: CEO/Co-Founder Jordan Fliegel has a few words of hard-won advice for budding entrepreneurs - so listen up!
(2) Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready To Race!
Now I’m training for the Freedom Trail 5K on Sept 1, but I don’t want this to be a one-off. I love searching RaceMenu’s calendar which helps me find races my friends are doing. With a focus on social sharing, RaceMenu makes events more fun for participants and more profitable for event organizers.
RaceMenu founder J. Alain Ferry and his team have created an all-in-one solution to help race directors manage and market their events more efficiently. Through RaceMenu’s integration with social networks, my peeps know when I’ve entered an event. A referral system incentivizes me to invite others, ensuring an even better time with friends. At the race, paper forms and long check-in lines are now a thing of the past thanks to RaceMenu's mobile app Raceday. Then as we cross the finish line, our results are instantly shared to Facebook and pictures are posted moments later.
By making events easier to manage and connecting race activity to the social graph, RaceMenu's innovative services foster a more robust local race schedule and a friendlier racing community - which means everybody wins. RaceMenu, a MassChallenge 2011 award winner, will be featured at Mass Innovation Nights on Sep 12 and Crowdfunding Innovation on Sep 19.
(3) Do You Want To Play?
Putting together a pickup basketball game? Want to create your own tennis match? Training for a road race and tired of heading out alone? Go ahead and create an athletic meet-up to draw in local partners to join you, with the option to send it out to your Facebook friends too. Or sign up for local sports activities that are already organized, break a sweat and have a ball. You can even find and book local sports facilities.
Red-hot and brand new to the App Store, ActivePepper is a location-based mobile app developed at Harvard’s i-Lab. CEO/Co-Founder Yasi Baiani gives you the inside scoop on identifying a niche and what’s it’s like at the new i-Lab.
(4) Outrageously Healthy
Are you at risk for hypertension, diabetes, or obesity? Maybe you just know that you should be exercising more and eating more veggies but are having trouble sticking to these resolutions. Healthrageous provides a fun and incredibly smart way to hold your slacking booty accountable and start new habits.
This Boston-based mobile health startup, spun out of Partners HealthCare, enables members to build a supportive community. While there are a number of websites that offer these types of communities (Weight Watchers, SparkPeople, etc.) Healthrageous is the only one that provides you with a personalized virtual coach.
Using algorithms to continually analyze your biometric data, Healthrageous analyzes what you eat, how much you sleep, and how much exercise you’re getting. In other words, no slacking off! If you haven’t been meeting your food or exercise goals, your digital coach will remind you every day; think “personal celebrity training” for a fraction of the cost. CEO Rick Lee gives you a personal tour of how the suite of products work for him in his own battle for health.
The best part: it’s not another out-of-pocket expense for you. Healthrageous is available through large insurance plans and companies, but unfortunately no medical insurance companies in Massachusetts offer their services yet, although other states are already on board. Are you listening, BC/BS of MA?
Why This Belongs In A Business Blog
One word: productivity. A recent study reinforces what many health professionals have been telling us for years: healthy employees = more productive employees. The study states that, “Employees with unhealthy diets were two-thirds more likely to experience a loss in productivity than those eating a highly nutritious diet. Employees exercising only occasionally or less were 50 percent more likely to perform at lower levels than regular exercisers.”
So get off your booty! Plug into these resources and become healthier, happier, and more successful in all aspects of your life.
Laurisa Neuwirth is a Boston World Partnership Connector, Ambassador of Relationship-Based Staffing at John Leonard Employment Services and a shameless evangelist on behalf of Greater Boston’s innovation economy. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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